EXCLUSIVE: Gordon’s panel to ask NBI for lifestyle check on Duterte’s son, son-in-law
The Senate blue ribbon committee has recommended a lifestyle check on members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s family – Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and his brother-in-law Manases Carpio – over allegations on their involvement in smuggling purportedly facilitated by the “Davao Group”.
In a draft committee report, a copy of which was obtained by the Inquirer on Tuesday, the committee urged the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to conduct a lifestyle check on the younger Duterte and Carpio.
However, the committee, chaired by Senator Richard Gordon, did not recommend the filing of charges against the two.
The draft committee report is still for approval among members of the panel as of posting. Majority of the panel must first affix their signature of confirmation to the report before it is reported to the Senate plenary where all senators would decide either to adopt or reject it.
Meanwhile, Malacañang declined to comment on the Senate blue ribbon committee’s recommendation.
“We defer to Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte and Atty. Mans Carpio,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella told INQUIRER.net on Tuesday.
On the other hand, Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said it would be “premature to discuss anything based on a DRAFT report.”
Nevertheless, she also said that should the recommendation of a lifestyle check on her husband becomes fixed in the committee’s final report: “My opinion is (that) it is an unreasonable recommendation mainly because it is based on ‘chismis’ of Mr. Taguba and from the ‘lies’ of Trillanes.”
Sara is the wife of Manases and sister of Paolo.
“Be that as it may, I’d like to reiterate that I welcome the investigation by the Ombudsman since this will allow us to answer accusations and I also welcome a lifestyle check on my husband so that the issue is put to rest,” she said.
“Trillanes is a paid troll. He is fishing for information with his lies and accusations. If indeed he is correct, bakit siya kukuha ng ebidensiya sa amin? Kasi alam niya hindi totoo ang sinasabi niya. Tapos na ang election, may nanalo na, mag-antay nalang siya ng election sa 2022 ulit,” she also said.
A portion of the Senate blue ribbon committee report noted that “no evidence was established to connect the two to the smuggling of drugs or other contraband through our Bureau of Customs.”
But under its recommendations, the committee said: “Personalities who, due to their close relationships to persons possessing high authority, are held to higher standards of accountability to the people precisely because of such close relationships. There are many examples that we are aware where rumors of close relationships abound, regardless of the administration in power.”
The report also said: “Perhaps this is an opportunity, in aid of legislation, to shed light into this area. In this administration, a similar pattern has emerged, with certain members of the First Family being linked to this sordid affair. Therefore, the committee decided to: Invite the personalities being mentioned, namely, Davao City Vice Mayor Paolo Duterte, and Atty. Manases Carpio, and; request the NBI to include both personalities in the lifestyle checks being conducted.”
The chairman said that although Duterte and Carpio were summoned “on the basis of mere hearsay,” the committee “sought to accommodate the importuning of Senator Trillanes.”
“The Committee wanted to show likewise that there are no holy cows exempted from our processes,” wrote Gordon.
“Implicating persons on mere hearsay was rigorously avoided. But, your committee did not hesitate to summon when a connection or implication was made of certain personalities, based on personal knowledge, even if the supposed personal knowledge was determined later to be a mistaken one,” he added.
The invitation of the members of the presidential family to the Senate hearings stirred controversy after Gordon earlier rejected Senator Antonio Trillanes IV’s motion to summon the two.
Trillanes’ calling the blue ribbon committee a “comite de absuwelto” for refusing to invite Duterte and Carpio prompted Gordon to file an ethics complaint against him.
The Davao Group, according to Customs fixer Mark Taguba II, allegedly facilitated smuggled deliveries in exchange for hefty grease money.
In earlier hearings, Taguba claimed that he met Davao City Councilor Nilo “Small” Abellera Jr. last January in Davao where the latter asked him to pay P5 million so he could seek protection from Duterte.
Duterte, Carpio and Abellera all denied any involvement in the corruption in Bureau of Customs (BOC).
Taguba said since he paid the P5 million “enrollment fee” and weekly remittances to the Davao Group, his container vans were never “alerted” by the BOC.
To prove these transactions happened, Taguba showed to the Senate panel exchanges of text messages between him and a certain “Tita Nani”, allegedly of the Davao Group, where he mentioned Duterte and Carpio.
MORE LIFESTYLE CHECK
Additionally, the draft committee report has also recommended a lifestyle check on Taguba and Abellera as well 12 others allegedly involved in the delivery of the highly controversial P6.4 billion shipment of shabu from China.
“It is also recommended to our law enforcement agencies, as well as the Bureau of Internal Revenue, through the Secretary of Finance, and ultimately through the President of the Philippines, that the following be further investigated, that their cases be more extensively pursued, and that they be haled to court, if warranted, for their participation in the smuggling of the 604 kilos of shabu into the country—especially looking into lifestyle checks of the persons mentioned…,” the report stated.
The report identified those 12 personalities as Chen Ju Long aka Richard Chen/Tan, Eirene Mae Tatad, Teejay Marcellana, Dong Yi Shen Xi aka Kenneth Dong, Li Guang Feng aka Manny Li, Chen I Min, Jhu Ming Jyun, Lu Chun Wei, Allen Capuyan, Jojo Bacud, Atty. Christopher Bolastig, and Mike Sabban.
Further, the Senate committee draft report recommended a regulatory compliance checks and test on HongFei Logistics Philippines, Golden Strike Logistics Inc., EMT Trading, Integricy Trading, RO and SS Tradings. /kga